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Bet on the NHLThe New York Rangers hope that their NHL wagering chances will improve with the addition of the lukewarmest free agent in the market, left wing Jimmy Vesey. The 23 year old winner of the Hobey Baker Award talked to seven different teams after becoming an unrestricted free agent, and ultimately decided to make his pro debut with the Rangers. The team from the Great Apple last won a Stanley Cup in 1993-94. The Rangers reached the Eastern Conference Final three times between 2012 and 2015 – including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014, which they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.

However, they were knocked off the postseason in the first round by current champions the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton seems to truly believe that Vesey could really help the team avoid a similar fate in the upcoming 2016-17 season, as well as boost their NHL wagering chances. The son of former center Jim Vesey recorded 80 goals, 64 assists, and 144 points in 128 regular season games in four years with the Harvard Crimson of the NCAA) Division I. The younger Vesey could find a place in the line alongside the equally newly arrived center Mika Zibanejad. The Rangers traded the Iranian-Swedish from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for center Derick Brassard and a 7th round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Zibanejad registered 21 goals, 30 assists, and 51 points in 81 regular season games with the Senators in 2015-16. Many Rangers hockey betting fans took umbrage at losing Brassard, who was the team’s lead scorer last season with 27 goals, and tied second in assists with 31. According to Gorton, though, Zibanejad has a lot that Brassard doesn’t – or rather, Brassard has something that Zibanejad lacks, and that is six more years on this Earth. “The ability to get him, to get a younger player, to get a guy that's fast, big, plays real well in his own zone, can do a lot of things for us, that's the exciting piece,” Gorton said.

In addition to Vesey and Zibanejad, the Rangers acquired defenseman Nick Holden in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche, and forwards Michael Grabner, Josh Jooris, and Nathan Gerbe in free agency, ostensibly in hopes of improving their penalty killing – which went from ranking 6th and 3rd in the previous couple of seasons to 26th in 2015-16. Finally, the Rangers are expecting left wing Rick Nash and forward Kevin Hayes to join Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, and Chris Kreider in the 20-goal-per-season club – to which Nash actually belonged before struggling with injuries last season and going from 42 goals to a paltry 15. Disappointing as their early playoff exit was, the truth is that it might have been a blessing in disguise for the Rangers, as far as their NHL wagering chances go. After playing 81 playoff games since 2012 – the most in the league –, the New York team may have been suffering a classic case of postseason fatigue.


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